Cuba says won't accept US threats or pressures

Cuba on Saturday slammed U.S. policy towards Latin America, calling it a return to a past of "domination and impositions," adding that Havana won't accept threats or pressure from Washington to modify its political system.

"Cuba won't accept threats or pressures from the United States. It doesn't want confrontation, but will not negotiate or cede one millimeter in its socialist principles," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in remarks at the ongoing eighth Summit of the Americas.

Rodriguez, who was leading the island country's delegation to the meeting, highlighted that the thawing ties between Washington and Havana were maintained since 2015 until Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency and decided to roll back the detente.

"The U.S. economic blockade and the financial persecution continue, but at the same time Washington is further isolated when it comes to their policy towards Cuba," he said.

According to the foreign minister, Cuba is currently in the presidential election process that will last until April 19, 2019 when Cubans decide a new president to succeed incumbent Raul Castro, younger brother and fellow revolutionary of Communist Cuba's founder Fidel Castro.

In addition, Rodriguez said that the younger generations in Cuba are closely linked to the ruling Communist Party, and that they will "firmly" commemorate the Fidel-led revolutionary troops' victory in defending the island against a U.S.-masterminded aggression in the early 1960s.

He was referring to the failed Playa Giron -- literally Bay of Pigs -- invasion of Cuba in April 1961 by U.S.-sponsored mercenaries comprised of mostly Cubans traveling in exile to the United States after Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

"Cubans, especially the younger generations, closely linked to the (Communist) Party, founded by (Jose) Marti and Fidel (Castro), together with Raul (Castro), will commemorate firm, secure and optimistic victory against the mercenary aggression in Playa Giron," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez warned of Washington's aspiration to re-establish its "imperialist domination" in Latin America, imposing Cold War era policies and a return to the "Monroe Doctrine," a 19th century strategy to control the region for political and economic purposes.

"Now the objective is to restore imperialist domination, destroy national sovereignties with unconventional interventions, overthrow popular governments, reverse social achievement and restore continental neo-liberalism in a continental scale," he said.

The Cuban diplomat said Washington has returned to the "use of force" and the "imposition of unilateral coercive measures" in its policy towards the region.

"We will only advance through integration and unity within the diversity that led to the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Recent events show that the Organization of American States (OAS) and especially its secretary general are mere instruments of the United States," he said.

The official also expressed the island country's solidarity with Venezuela, saying the exclusion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the summit was a "historic setback" imposed by the United States.

The diplomat also condemned Saturday's missile strikes on Syrian government facilities by the United States, Britain and France.

Suspended for decades by the OAS, Cuba only returned to the Summit of the Americas in 2015 when the seventh version of the gathering was held in Panama.

  • Published in Cuba

Head of CIA: Gina Haspel, Linked to Torture

The EFE Spanish news agency reported in Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that the CIA Headquarters will be occupied by a woman.

We are talking about Gina Haspel who up until now worked as deputy director of that espionage agency.

Haspel, 61 years old, ran in Thailand one of the first torture centers known as "black sites" that the United States opened to extract confessions through torture.

She also played an important role in this program, on the grey side of the law, after September 11 to imprison and interrogate alleged suspects of terrorism, under the Bush Administration.

Haspel, said the agency, oversaw herself at least two extreme interrogation sessions where tortures were used, what disclosed an investigation of the Senate.

The suspects were Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

The first one was subjected 83 times to "waterboarding" according to documents revealed in the North American Congress.

Gina Haspel's name was also related to the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes of black site interrogations in 2005 that were filed in Thailand.

She was promoted in 2013 to head of a CIA clandestine unit, a position confirmed by the Senate.    

According to EFE, the president instead of rejecting these tortures, he back them up, therefore Haspel fits right in the picture of Trump’s CIA era.

It was also made public the outing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, position that will occupy Mike Pompeo, current CIA director.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, sent an official statement of the leader where he stressed that under Tillerson’s time great things had been achieved in the last 14 months."

In this document Trump repeated his "trust" in Mike Pompeo and "he is the right man for the job at this fundamental moment and he shall continue our program of restoring the role of the United States in the world."

According to what Sanders said, Trump asked Tillerson to move aside.

But according to Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn't speak with Trump and he ignores the reason of his removal.

Goldstein affirmed "The Secretary of State intentions of staying due to the critical process made in matters of national security".

If what’s been written so far uncovered the conflicting panorama of the White House, the new succession of events, as a clear warning, corroborates it.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

U.S.’s ‘Cuba Internet Task Force’ exposed as attack on Cuban sovereignty

Washington, D.C. — This Workers World reporter was able to intervene in favor of socialist Cuba as the new Cuba Internet Task Force held its inaugural public meeting on Feb. 7 in the U.S. State Department headquarters here.

The task force’s conclusions are set up to promote the same violations of Cuba’s sovereignty practiced since Cuban revolutionaries toppled the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.

Those U.S. tactics, aimed at regime change, have failed. The mission description of the State Department’s task force admits its goals in euphemistic language: “The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba including through [U.S.] federal government support of programs and activities that encourage freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom.” This means the U.S. aims to encourage those hostile to the Cuban government to use the internet for these goals.

It’s no surprise the U.S. Agency for Inter­national Development sits on the task force. USAID contracted Alan Gross to install military grade covert communication devices in Cuba in 2009. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and spent 5 years of a 15-year sentence in a Cuban prison.

The U.S. government initiated and funded the TV/Radio/Internet propaganda media, given the misappropriated name of Cuba’s national hero, José Martí. This media group has a seat on the task force, as does its oversight agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Initially, 10 slots for 3-minute public comments were planned for the Feb. 7 public meeting. Five speakers of the original 10 opposed the task force objectives and its attack on Cuban sovereignty.

WW reporter speaks at meeting

Besides covering the public meeting, Workers World participated; this reporter’s remarks are published here:

“Even after the last presidential election, Pew Research polls demonstrated that 75 percent of people in the U.S. support diplomatic relations with Cuba and 73 percent support ending the U.S. blockade of Cuba. I am one of them. The statistics hold for Cubans in the U.S., too. One hundred and ninety-one of 193 countries voted to oppose the blockade just last November at the United Nations General Assembly.

“The Federal Register announcement says the purpose of the Cuba Internet Task Force is ‘to examine technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba.’

“Have any of you been to Cuba? When you go, you will see as I have with my own eyes the Cuban people communicating using smartphones at the expanding number of hotspots. They are talking with friends and relatives in the U.S. and other countries. Home internet is beginning. Public notice is given about the plans for reducing internet prices. And the prices really do go down. Cubans use Facebook and Twitter and email.

“In 2009, I was with a group of British union officials in Havana when their cell phone rang — their phones worked in Cuba, but mine did not. Canadian phones worked in Cuba. Now my phone works in Cuba, too. The Cuban telecom company ETECSA has agreements with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Google. Those agreements became possible when this government — not the Cuban government — this government stopped blocking them.

“After 120 years, the United States must come to grips with the fact that Cuba does not belong to the United States. How is it proper to sit in the U.S. State Department and discuss this matter as though Cuba is not a sovereign country?

“Do you want to assess challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access? Let’s start with my city, Detroit. The FCC reported as recently as 2015 that 40 percent of my city’s residents have no access to the internet. Let’s use the budget for this Task Force and the previous radio/TV and internet regime change projects dreamed up in Washington for infrastructure to bring quality, affordable internet access to all in cities like Detroit and rural areas, too.

“So to improve internet access in Cuba, negotiate with the Cuban government in a respectful and equal way, end the blockade and travel restrictions, and return the occupied Guantánamo territory to the Cuban people.”

  • Published in Cuba

Resurrecting outdated Monroe Doctrine reflects Washington's entrenched backyard thinking

Ahead of his visit to Latin America, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that Washington's Monroe Doctrine "clearly has been a success" and "is as relevant today as it was the day it was written" in 1823.

The doctrine was first put forward to drive Europeans away from the region almost two centuries ago. With such an interventionist foreign policy, Washington officially staked out its backyard.

In 2013, then U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the era of the Monroe Doctrine had ended and predicted a new relationship with Latin America featuring equal rights. Today, with Tillerson's remarks, the Trump administration is signaling that it wants to resurrect the obsolete foreign policy.

Over the past year, U.S. President Donald Trump has brandished a big stick against Cuba and Venezuela. His government has abandoned a rapprochement with Cuba and issued a series of sanctions against Venezuela with the purpose of promoting a change of government in the country.

Ever since the doctrine was first formulated, the United States has sought to control and manipulate the region through direct and indirect interventions, and to extract huge resources and wealth from local countries.

To guarantee its almost absolute control over the continent, Washington has, over the past two centuries, carried out a host of military interventions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Cuba, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Haiti.

Many historians and critics have observed that "Americans" in the phrase "America for the Americans" is limited to "the United States."

The region's excessive dependence on the United States neither brought it prosperity nor security, and this explains why the region has decided to expand its relations, both economic and political ones, to other countries in the world, to reduce such dependence and seek a greater integration into the wider international community.

Also in his speech delivered hours before flying to the region, Tillerson warned Latin American governments of the advance of "predatory" foreign countries. Similarly, over two centuries the Monroe Doctrine aimed to avoid interventions from outside the American continent.

He even labeled China and Russia as "imperial powers" in Latin America. Such blunt lecturing shows that the Trump White House still intends to keep Latin America strictly within its sphere of influence. It is like putting up a big sign that says: "Stay away! I own it."

Also, Tillerson's accusations against China are as ridiculous as they are self-defeating.

But Chinese policies, which promote free trade and globalization, including the Belt and Road Initiative, are now offering welcome alternatives for Latin America.

China is now a major international buyer of Latin American bulk commodities, and imports more and more agricultural and high value-added products from the region. China's investment in and financial cooperation with Latin American countries are in full accordance with commercial rules and local laws and regulations.

While Beijing is trying to help Latin Americans realize their dream of development and prosperity, Washington is becoming more protectionist against the region, and seeking to resurrect a policy born in the age of colonialism.

To Latin Americans and the world, it is becoming increasingly clear which country is really the imperialist power.

  • Published in World

Reckless “Present” CIA to Venezuela

Hours ago it was revealed that the top brass of that espionage agency works with the governments of Colombia and Mexico to destroy Venezuela.

Thus was written this Wednesday by an Argentinean journalist to the unconditional service of Washington.          

His name, Andrés Oppenheimer, New Herald columnist and well known in other U.S. media circles and for special services of that country.

Now he got published a significant title: “The Gift the CIA Gave to Nicolás Maduro.”

It begins asserting, Trump’s government “is the most inexpert and inapt regarding foreign policy ever remembered in recent history.”

And he adds, but what the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, did when he talked about Venezuela “is a huge stupidity.”

He affirmed last July 20th that they worked hard for the reestablishment of democracy in Caracas.

And he added, I was in Mexico City and Bogotá two weeks ago, speaking about this issue.

“Trying to help them understand what they could do, so that they can get a better result for their side of the world and our part of the world.”

Soon after, said Oppenheimer, Pompeo’s comments were in YouTube.

“The United States conspires against Venezuela, the head of the CIA confirms”, read a headline in Telesur, the television network that broadcasts in all Latin America.

Hours later, Oppenheimer continued, Maduro was on television, taking advantage of Pompeo’s “screw up” and attacking the governments of Mexico and Colombia.

Then the North American journalist tried to mend both images saying that they have been active in the efforts so that Maduro reestablishes the democratic order in Venezuela.

Unable to answer, Oppenheimer turns to the intrigue (made in U.S.A.) regarding the supposed dominant role of Cuba in that South American nation.

Earlier, Nicolás Maduro had summoned the governments of Mexico and Colombia to clarify the statement of the CIA director.

Faintly, very faintly, they tried and failed miserably.  

According to Oppenheimer Venezuelan and Latin Americans “followers of Telesur”, they believe that agency is still bent on overthrowing governments.

For them, he wrote, Pompeo’s words sounded like alarms going off.

Hence Mr. Andrés Oppenheimer helped to explain why he symbolizes one of the most despicable personalities in the journalistic world of this region.

He is ideal to serve those who trained him and awarded him in the United States and today hire him further south.

But the core matter is, once again they’ve silenced the multiple aggressions Venezuela has suffered and implicitly they justified it, because they are accomplices.

All that thanks to the testimony of the CIA Director they were caught “red handed.”

Russia retaliates over new US sanctions

Russia retaliated Friday to new sanctions from Washington by announcing it would seize US properties and demand a reduction in American diplomatic staff, according to reports.

The Kremlin took the tit-for-tat action in the wake of the US Senate vote to slap new financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea over President Trump’s objections.

The bill now awaits the president’s signature.

Russian officials said the US Embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok must cut the number of their “diplomatic and technical employees” to 455 by Sept. 1, the Washington Post reported.

That staffing level would equal the number of Russian diplomatic staff in the US.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said it would seize a Moscow warehouse and recreation complex used by the American Embassy.

A US Embassy spokesman could not immediately say how many people work for the Embassy and consulates in Russia.

The new US legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

It bars Trump from easing or waiving the penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees.

In December, President Obama kicked out 35 Russians described as “intelligence operatives” and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds because of Russia’s interference in the election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry recommend that President Vladimir Putin respond by expelling US diplomats, but he said he would wait, apparently hoping the newly elected president would reverse the decision after his inauguration.

US-Russian relations dropped to a post-Cold War low after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and interference in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The new package of sweeping sanctions aims to hit Putin and his inner circle by targeting alleged corrupt officials, human-rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy.

Russia dismissed the new sanctions as “creating unfair competitive advantages for the US economy.”

“This kind of blackmail aimed at restricting the cooperation between Russia and other nations is a threat for many countries and global businesses,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

  • Published in World

Trump targets Morning Joe co-hosts in latest Twitter tirade against media

Donald Trump attacked the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, making an especially crude reference to anchor Mika Brzezinski “bleeding badly” from a facelift.

The president fired off at Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough in a series of tweets posted just before their morning show was drawing to a close.

“I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump wrote.
Trump was sleazy with a reporter. Her awkward laugh felt all too familiar
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Jessica Valenti
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“Then how come low-IQ, crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

This is not the first time Trump has taken aim at Morning Joe – a popular early-morning politics show – for being critical in its coverage of him. But his comments about Brzezinski drew immediate comparisons to Trump’s feud with then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly, and his assertion during the election that she had “blood coming out of her wherever” while moderating a Republican primary debate.

“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said of Kelly in a CNN interview at the time. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.”

Trump denied he was referring to Kelly’s menstrual cycle, and remained unapologetic despite the subsequent backlash. Trump has a history of making vulgar comments about women – he referred to Rosie O’Donnell as a “fat pig” and a “slob”, and called Arianna Huffington a “dog”. He was criticized this week for making comments about the appearance of Caitriona Perry, an Irish journalist.

Trump once shared a friendly rapport with the Morning Joe hosts, frequently calling in to their program during the Republican primaries. But Trump began levying personal attacks against the duo during the general election, deeming their coverage of him unfair.

Trump once threatened to “tell the real story” of Scarborough’s relationship with Brzezinski (the co-hosts are engaged to be married). In that instance, Trump made similarly gendered remarks about Brzezinski by referring to her as Scarborough’s “very insecure long-time girlfriend” and “a neurotic and not very bright mess”.

While Scarborough and Brzezinski were sighted at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on New Year’s Eve, Scarborough publicly denied they were there to participate in the festivities. “Nothing that Mika and I did in setting up this meeting was any different than what all good reporters and news hosts try to do daily,” Scarborough said in January, adding: “I hope we get the interview.”

Trump’s latest tirade follows a renewal of his attacks on the media, which included a tweet storm on Wednesday against the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN over their recent coverage of his presidency.

Melania Trump pledged to combat cyberbullying as first lady, although little action has followed since her husband took office.

In a statement to reporters on Thursday, the first lady’s spokesperson said: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”

Top White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed this on Fox News. “This is a president who fights fire with fire, and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media,” Sanders said.
0:55
White House: Trump tweets didn’t go too far – video

Later at the White House press briefing she denied that Trump had gone too far with the tweets. “I think the president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts, by members on that programme, and I think he’s been very clear that when he gets attacked, he’s going to hit back,” she told reporters. “I think the American people elected somebody who’s tough, who’s smart and who’s a fighter and that’s Donald Trump.”

Sanders complained that Morning Joe had repeatedly used phrases such as “utterly stupid”, “personality disorder” and “mentally ill” in reference to the president and called his allies “liars” to their faces. “He’s not going to sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites, and when they hit him he’s going to hit back,” she added, while insisting that he has never promoted violence.

The deputy press secretary rejected the argument that Trump had been sexist in drawing attention to a woman’s looks. “Look, everyone wants to make this an ‘attack on a woman’. What about the constant attacks that he receives or the rest of us? I’m a woman and I’ve been attacked by this show multiple times but I don’t cry foul because of it. I think you want to create this false narrative: on the one hand let’s treat everybody equally, on the other hand they attack, attack, attack and he responds and apparently that’s wrong.”

But the tweet met immediate condemnation from a number of congressional Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted: “Mr President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.” Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska took a more indirect approach, begging: “Please just stop. This isn’t normal, and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, the second highest ranking Republican woman in the House of Representatives, tweeted: “This is not OK. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women.”

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said the president’s “bullying” tweets were “an attack on women everywhere”.

She said: “Trump has a long pattern of making demeaning, sexist and discriminatory comments about the women who take him on. The fact that they happen frequently doesn’t make them OK. From his Twitter slurs to his policies, we have a president who continues to show us he has no regard for women and whose comments demean the office he holds.”

Brzezinski herself responded on Twitter with an image that appeared to mock the size of the president’s hands.

  • Published in Culture

House passes Kate’s Law, anti-sanctuary city bill

The Republican-controlled House on Thursday passed two immigration bills that align with President Donald Trump’s aim to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” and deportees who re-enter the United States unlawfully.

The lower chamber voted 228-195 to pass the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, and 257-167 to approve Kate’s Law.

The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would require cities to comply with federal immigration authorities — such as U.S. Customs and Immigration — or face a cutoff of federal law enforcement funds. The bill is similar to an executive order Trump signed in January, which was ultimately blocked in federal court.

There are more than 300 “sanctuary cities” in the United States — including New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles — that have written or unwritten policies against complying with immigration officials. The crux of their arguments is that federal detainer orders bring about a number of unintended consequences that cause harm to the cities and counties in which the targeted immigrants reside. Those areas do, however, cooperate with ICE when immigrants are the subject of criminal warrants.

“Sanctuary cities are anything but safe,” Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said. “Instead, these are places that allow some criminals to go free.”

“By flagrantly disregarding the rule of law, sanctuary cities are putting lives at risk,” House Speaker Paul Ryan added. “And we cannot tolerate that.”

Kate’s Law is named for Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed in 2015 allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported multiple times. It seeks to increase the maximum penalties for migrants who re-enter the United States illegally after deportation.

“If you are going to receive taxpayer dollars from the federal government to keep people safe, then you have got to follow the law and keep them safe,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the sponsor of Kate’s Law, said. “That’s the reason why we do that.”

The bills still need to be approved by the Senate, where many analysts believe both will be defeated. A similar effort by the Senate last year failed.

Trump has repeatedly advocated for stricter laws against criminals who are in the country illegally. Earlier this year, he announced the creation of VOICE — Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement.

Critics of efforts targeting “sanctuary cities” blasted the bills’ passages Thursday, saying it’s inappropriate for the U.S. government to mandate that local law enforcement agencies enforce federal laws — particularly by threatening to cut funding, which totals in the billions nationwide.

“That’s just bogus,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., told CNN Thursday. “There’s nothing that any state or locality can or should do to prevent [ICE] from enforcing immigration laws. What they want to do is commandeer state and locals to do their job for them, and a lot of police departments object to that because they need to build trust with communities.”

“This bill perpetuates the ugly myth that immigrants are more dangerous and more likely to commit crimes than native Americans,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said. “This bill demonizes immigrants, punishes communities that seek to build trust between immigrants and law enforcement and allows indefinite detention, … all while making us less safe.”

Copyright 2016 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

  • Published in World
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